tv President Trump Delivers Liberty University Commencement Address CSPAN June 4, 2017 3:23pm-3:58pm EDT
that is an extraordinarily valuable gift to you. it requires, as your student speaker said, a measure of humility, because it is very difficult to escape the trap that is each of us. i can only experience the world through the experience of an awkward 6'8" person -- 6'8" white person from the new york metropolitan area. almost no one experiences the world the same way i do, so how do i get in their heads in the way they see it, so i can be a better leader, a better lawyer, a better husband, a better person? judgment is the answer, being intentional about fostering my ability to ask myself how could it be seen differently? >> president donald trump delivered the commencement address at linde -- liberty university, the largest christian university founded by jerry falwell in 1971. [applause] [applause]
president trump: thank you very much, everybody. and congratulations to the class of 2017. that is some achievement. this is your day. you have earned every minute of it. i am thrilled to be back at liberty university. i have been here, this is now my third time. and we love setting records, right? we always set records. we have to set records, we have no choice. it has been a little over a year since i have spoken on your beautiful campus. so much has changed. right here, the class of 2017, dressed in cap and gown, graduating to a totally brilliant future. here i am, standing before you as president of the united
there is no place in the world i would rather be to give my first commencement address as president than here with my wonderful friends at liberty university. [applause] president trump: i accepted the invitation a long time ago. i said to jerry that i would be there. when i say something, i mean it. [applause] president trump: i want to thank president jerry falwell and his incredible wife, becky. stand up, becky. for their kind words, their steadfast support, and their really wonderful friendship. let me also extend our appreciation to the entire falwell family, trey, sarah, wesley, laura, and caroline, thank you for everything you do to make the university so exceptional. one of the truly great schools. most importantly, to the new graduates, each of you should take immense pride in what you have achieved. there is another group of amazing people we want to celebrate today. they are the ones who have made this journey possible for you. and you know who that is? you forgot already. you are going to go out, you will do whatever you are going to do, some will make a lot of money.
some will be happier doing other things. they are your parents and grandparents, do not forget them. [applause] president trump: you have not forgotten? never, ever forget them, they are great. especially this weekend, let's make sure we give a really extra special thanks to the moms. [applause] president trump: don't forget our moms. graduates, today is your day. today is your day, but, in all of this excitement, do not forget that tomorrow is mother's day, right? i had a great mother. she is looking down now. but i had a great mother. i always loved mother's day. we are deeply honored to be joined by some of the nearly 6000 service members, military veterans and spouses receiving their diplomas today. would you please stand? wow.
[applause] president trump: that is great. thank you very much. great job. we are profoundly grateful to every single one of you who sacrifice to keep us safe and protect god's precious gift of freedom. it is truly a testament to the university and the values that you embrace that your graduating class includes so many patriots who have served the country in uniform. thank you very much. to the class of 2017, today you end one chapter, but you are about to begin the greatest adventure of your lives. just think for a moment about how blessed you are to be here today at this great, great university. living in this amazing country surrounded by people who you love and care about so much. then ask yourself, with all of those blessings and all of the
blessings that you have been given, what will you give back to this country and indeed the world? what imprint will you leave in the sands of history? what will future american say we did in our brief time right here on earth? did we take risks? did we dare to defy expectations? did we challenge accepted wisdom and take on established systems? i think i did. we all did. we are all doing it. or did we just go along with convention? swim downstream so easily with the current and just give in
because it was the easy, traditional way, or the accepted way? remember this, nothing worth doing ever, ever, ever came easy. following your convictions means you must be willing to face criticism from those who lack the same courage to do what is right. they know what is right, but they do not have the courage or the guts, or the stamina to take it and to do it. it is called the road less traveled. i know that each of you will be a warrior for the truth. will be a warrior for our
country, and for your family. i know that each of you will do what is right, not what is the easy way. and you will be true to yourself, your country and your beliefs. in my short time in washington, i have seen firsthand how the system is broken. a small group of failed voices, who think they know everything, and understand everyone want to tell everybody else how to live and what to do, and how to think. but you are not going to let other people tell you what you believe, especially when you know that you are right. [applause] president trump: those of you graduating today who have given half a million hours of charity last year alone, unbelievable amount of work and charity. few universities or colleges can
claim anything even close. we do not need a lecture from washington on how to lead our lives. i am standing here, looking at the next generation of american leaders. there may very well be a president or two in our midst. anyone think you will be president, raise your hand? [applause] president trump: in your hearts are inscribed the values of service, sacrifice, and devotion. now you must go forth into the world and turn your hopes and dreams into action. america has always been the land of dreams because america is a nation of true believers. when the pilgrims landed at plymouth, they prayed. when the founders wrote the
declaration of independence, they invoked our creator four times. in america we do not worship government, we worship god. [applause] that is why the elected officials put their hands on the bible and say, so help me god as they take the oath of office. it is why our currency proudly declares, in god we trust. and it is why we proudly proclaim that we are one nation, under god every time we say the pledge of allegiance.
president trump: the story of america is the story of an adventure that began with deep faith, big dreams, and humble beginnings. that is also the story of liberty university. when i think about the visionary founder of this great institution, reverend jerry falwell senior, i can only imagine how excited he would be if he could see all of this and all of you today, and how proud he would be of his son and of his family. in just two days, we will mark the 10th anniversary of reverend falwell's passing. i used to love watching him on television. hearing him preach.
he was a very special man. he would be so proud, not just of what you have achieved, but of the young men and women of character that you have all become. jerry, your dad is looking down on you right now and he is proud. he is very proud. congratulations. great job. [applause] president trump: reverend falwell's life is a testament to the power of faith to change the world. the inspiring legacy that we see all around us in this great stadium, this is a beautiful stadium. and it is packed. i am so happy about that. i said, how are you going to fill up a place like that? it is packed, jerry. [laughter] president trump: it is a beautiful campus. and your smiling faces. but it all began with a vision. that vision was of a world-class
university for evangelical christians. i want to thank you because, boy did you come out and vote, those of you that are old enough, in other words, your parents. boy, oh boy. you voted. you voted. no doubt many people told him his vision was impossible, i am sure they continue to say that so long after he started. at the beginning with just 154 students. the fact is, no one has ever achieved anything significant without a chorus of critics standing on the sidelines, explaining why it cannot be done. nothing is easier, or more pathetic than being a critic. because they are people that cannot get the job done. the future belongs to the dreamers, not the critics. the future belongs to the people
who follow their heart, no matter what the critics say because they truly believe in their vision. at liberty, your leaders knew from the beginning that a strong athletic program would help the campus grow so the school might transform more lives. that is why a crucial part of reverend falwell's vision for making liberty a world-class institution was having a world-class football team. much like the great teams of notre dame. great school, great place. in fact, vice president mike pence is there today, doing a fabulous job as he always does. [applause] president trump: a few years ago "the new york times" even wrote a story on the great ambitions of the liberty flames.
that story prompted a long time president of another school to write a letter to jerry. it is a letter that reverend falwell would have been very, very pleased to read. jerry tells me that letter now hangs on the wall in the boardroom of your great university. it came from the late father theodore hexberg, the beloved president of the university of notre dame 35 years ago. like this school's founder, he was a truly kindhearted man of deep faith. in the letter, he recalled that notre dame's own meteoric rise from a small, midwestern school to a national football powerhouse. then he wrote something so amazing and generous, he wrote, i think you are on that same trajectory now, and i want to wish you all of the best and
encourage you from the starting, and from being able to start very small and arriving in the big time. thanks to hard work, great faith, and devotion, those dreams have come true. as of february of this year, the liberty flames are playing in the highest level of competition in ncaa football. don't clap, that could be tough. i am a little worried. i don't want to look at the scores here. jerry, are you sure you know what you're doing here? [laughter] president trump: other players are big and fast and strong. but i have a feeling that you will do very well. from the most humble roots you have become a powerhouse in education and sports. just wait until the world hears
the football teams you will be playing starting next season. president falwell gave me a list of some of the schools. the once he will be playing in 2018. would you like me to read the names? would you like to hear them? i'm a little bit concerned. umass, virginia, auburn, jerry, are you sure you know what you are doing? [laughter] president trump: jerry, auburn? i don't know about that. this could be trouble, jerry. rutgers, old dominion, brigham young, army, i might be there, who am i supposed to root for? tell me. i don't know. that is a tough one, jerry. i don't know, jerry. i will have to think about that one, jerry.
buffalo, troy, virginia tech, oh no, jerry. ole miss and wake forest. those are really top schools. maybe in four years or five years i will come. good luck. the success of your athletic program arriving on a big stage should be a reminder to every new graduate of just what you can achieve when you start small,pursue a big vision, and never, ever quit. you never quit. if i give you one message to hold in your hearts today, it is this -- never, ever give up. there will be times in your life you will want to quit. you will want to go home. you want to go home perhaps to that wonderful mother sitting back there watching you and say, mom, i cannot do it. i cannot do it. just never quit. go back home and tell mom, dad,
i can do it. i can do it. i will do it. you are going to be successful. i have seen so many brilliant people. they gave up in life. they were totally brilliant. they were top of their class. they were the best students, the best of everything, they gave up. i have seen others who really did not have a talent or ability and they are among the most successful people today in the world because they never quit and they never gave up. so just remember that. never stop fighting for what you believe in and for the people who care about you. carry yourself with dignity and pride. demand the best from yourself. and be totally unafraid to challenge entrenched interest and failed power structures. does that sound familiar, by the way? the more people tell you it is not possible, that it cannot be done, the more you should be
absolutely determined to prove them wrong. treat the word impossible as nothing more than motivation. relish the opportunity to be an outsider. embrace that label. being an outsider is fine. embrace the label. because it is the outsiders who changed the world and who make a real and lasting difference. the more that a broken system tells you that you are wrong, the more certain you should be that you must keep pushing ahead. you must keep pushing forward. and always have the courage to be yourself. most importantly, you have to do what you love. you have to do what you love. i have seen so many people, they are forced through lots of
reasons, sometimes including family, to go down a path that they do not want to go down. to go down a path that leads them to something they do not love or enjoy. you have to do what you love, or you most likely will not be very successful at it. so do what you love. i want to recognize a friend who is here with us today who can serve as an inspiration to us all. someone who does not know the meaning of the word, quit. real champion. a true, true champion, both on the field, off the field. he is a hall of fame quarterback for the buffalo bills, really a good friend of mine. an amazing guy, jim kelly. where is he? he is here someplace. stand up, jim. [applause] president trump: what a great man. jim kelly. [applause]
president trump: jim, do you have any idea how much money would be making today? they would hit jim and its like tackling a linebacker. they would hit him, four or five guys that weigh 320 pounds, they just keep going on the field. he was more than a quarterback, he had tremendous heart and he knew how to win. jim is tough and his toughest fight of all was that he beat cancer, not once, but twice. [applause] president trump: i saw him and his incredible wife as they were in a low moment. very low moment. it was amazing the way they fought. they did not look good. i would have said, maybe it will
not happen. there was always that hope because of jim and his heart. i want to say, it is great to have you here today, jim. these people are big fans. if you could get a young version of jim kelly, he will be beating a lot of teams, jerry. [applause] interestingly, i said, i wonder what jim is doing here? his daughter, erin, crosses the goal line to you and today with you. erin, stand up. where are you? congratulations, erin. [applause] congratulations. graduating from liberty, great choice. thank you. liberty university is a place where they really have true champions. you have a simple creed that you live by, to be really champions for christ.
whether you are called to be a missionary overseas, to shepherd missionary overseas, to shepherd a church, or to be a leader in your community, you are a living witness of the gospel message of faith, hope, and love. i must tell you, i am so proud as your president to have helped you along over the past short period of time. i said i was going to do it and jerry, i did it. a lot of people are happy with what has taken place, especially last week. we did some very important signings. [applause] right, james? very important signings. america is better when people put their faith into action. as long as i am your president , no one is ever going to stop faithom practicing your or from preaching what is in your heart. [applause]
we will always stand up for the right of all americans to pray to god and to follow his teachings. america is beginning a new chapter. today, each of you begins a new chapter as well. when your story goes from here , it will be defined by your vision, your perseverance, and your grit. that is a word jim kelly knows very well, your grit. in this, i am reminded of another man you know very well and who has joined us here today. his name is george rogers. liberty university's cfo and vice president for a quarter of a century. during world war ii, george
spent three and a half years as a prisoner of war. he saw many of his fellow soldiers die during the baton death march. he was the victim of starvation and torture as a prisoner of war. when he was finally set free, he weighed just 85 pounds and was told he would not live past the age of 40. today, george is 98 years old. [applause] great. [applause]
that is so great, george. if anyone ever had reason to quit, to give into the bitterness and anger that we all face at some point, to lose hope in god's vision for his life, it was, indeed, george rogers, but that is not what he did. he stood up for his country, he stood up for his community, he stood up for his family, and he defended civilization against a tide of barbarity, the kind of barbarity we are seeing today and we have been witnessing over
the last number of years and i just want to tell you as your president, we are doing very, very well encountering it. you just hang in there, things along very, very well. you will be hearing a lot about it next week from our generals. things are going along very, very well. facegh it along all, he kept hs in god, even in the darkest depths of despair, like so many others in his generation, george came home to a nation full of optimism and pride and began to live out the american dream. he started a family, he decided -- discovered god's plan for him in pursuit of that vision with all his might, pouring his passion into a tiny college in a place called lynchburg, virginia. did you ever hear of that? lynchburg? we love it.
deal like it? -- do you like it? i like it. i flew over it a little while ago and it is amazing. as a dream with a few good friends, he helped shepherd it into the largest christian university in the world. just look at this amazing, soaring, growing campus, and i have been watching it grow, because i have been a friend of liberty for a long time now, jerry, a long time. thanks in part to george's financial stewardship, hundreds hundreds of thousands of young hearts and souls have been enriched at liberty and inspired by this spirit of god. george, we thank you and we salute you and you just stay healthy for a long time, george. thank you. [applause] now it falls on the soldiers of
-- shoulders of each of you today to protect the freedom that patriots like george earn with their incredible sacrifice, fortunately, you have been equipped with the pools from your time right here on this campus to make the right decisions and to serve god, family, and country as you build good lives, you will also be rebuilding our nation. yourill be leaders in communities, stewarts of great institutions, and defenders of liberty. you will be great mothers and fathers and grandmothers and grandfathers, loving friends and loving family members. you will build a future where we have the current to chase our dreams no matter what the cynics and the doubters have to say. you will have the confidence to speak the hopes and the hearts
and to express the love that stirs your soul. to will have the faith replace a broken establishment with a government that serves and protects the people. [applause] we must always remember that we glorious home and one destiny, whether we are brown, black, or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots. we all salute the same great american flag and we are all made by the same almighty god as long -- [applause]
-- as you remember what you have learned here at liberty. as long as you have pride in your beliefs, courage in your convictions, and faith in your god, then you will not fail. [applause] and as long as america remains true to its values, loyal to its citizens, and devoted to its creator, then our best days are yet to come. i can promise you that. [applause] this has been an exceptional morning, it has been a great honor for me and i want to thank you, the students, i also want
senator bernie sanders grew up in brooklyn and attended brooklyn college his first year before transferring to the suit -- transferring to the university of chicago. sen. sanders: thank you. [cheering] sen. sanders: you know and i know these are tough times for our country. i do want to say that standing up. looking out at the beautiful people in front of me, i have enormous confidence in the future of our country. [applause] begin byers: let me congratulating the graduating class